Comités de represión

"Occupy" in Havana / Laritza Diversent

"Occupy" in Havana / Laritza Diversent
Laritza Diversent, Translator: Regina Anavy

On the periphery of Havana, in the Alamar district,cases of
squatters inunoccupied buildingsare proliferating. The Government and
the Municipal Division (DMV), the entities in charge of solving
the problem, are simply targets for the numerous complaints and pleas of
the population.

"You're not on the list of priority cases, there are people worse off,
and they haven't committed an offense like you," said Rita, of
the Alamar Government, to Iris, on Thursday Feb. 9, in an interview,
togetherwith the DMV Legal Subdirector.

Iris Ruiz, the wife of the OMNI-ZONAFRANCA coordinator, and her 6 small
children, occupied the apartment 4 months ago, Number 1 of the Building
E-83, Zone 9 Alamar, where they currently live without water or
electricity. Her family was declared an illegal occupant by Resolution
1608/2011, which establishes that "in 2004 the house was confiscated,
after the definitive exit of the owner, who went to the U.S."

"It's uncertain that the house was confiscated," said Iris. "The
Director of the DMV told me that the apartment is not included in the
housing stock. After 2004, two people lived there. One of them is still
on the records of Betty, the president of the , even though they
abandoned the country more than 5 years ago."

"They left this apartment ruined, while other people needed it," Iris
added. Neighbors say a DMV inspector visited the site several times with
apparent illegal buyers for the property.

"Rosaura, a neighbor of this building, has a son who had a heart
operation, and she lives together with 10 people; Estela, a neighbor at
Building E-79, has a paraplegic daughter and needs to live on the ground
floor. These are two of the parties who tried to get the unoccupied
apartment. The Government's response was negative, because "the
apartment is already taken."

Who gets priority? Iris wonders.

According to the President of the Government of Alamar, at the municipal
level no institution has the power to assign housing. Since 2006, this
functionhas been the responsibility of the Provincial Government. "Only
from me can you get an apartment, since our mission is to combat illegal
behavior," Rita warned Iris, after showing her the extensive list of
squatters, waiting for eviction by the authorities.

Yaneisy, known as "the Twin,"already has lived through the experience of
an eviction. She's had a social-work case-file in the Alamar DMV for 16
years. Some time ago, she illegally occupied an apartment. "Theyevicted
me with my 2 young children and put all my belongings on the street.
They told me I should go back to my place of origin: a 2-room apartment,
where 12 people were living together," she said.

The housing shortage is a sad reality that increasingly affects a larger
number of Cubans. Those scattered around by the usual shortage can't
afford to pay monthly rent for housing, let alone buy a house, whose
prices don't invite optimism.

Translated by Regina Anavy

March 6 2012

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